Outreach

Over the course of this project, wheat community stakeholder meetings were convened to describe the wheat blast threat, explain the wheat blast research program, and to provide an opportunity for members of the community to learn about wheat blast and to ask questions relevant the biosecurity issues associated with conducting research with this pathogen in Kansas. Participants included representatives from the wheat industry in Kansas, personnel from state and federal regulatory agencies, wheat research scientists, and representatives from the Kansas Crop Improvement Association. The first stakeholder meeting was convened prior to submitting the proposal to secure funding. The purpose of that first meeting was to brief the wheat community of the potential threat to wheat production in Kansas and the U.S. posed by wheat blast and to inform them of the intent to submit the proposal that, if funded, would result in bringing the wheat blast pathogen to K-State under a USDA APHIS PPQ permit. Presentations from the Wheat Blast Team provided an overview of the disease in South America, covered the safety and security protocols that would be followed, and included a virtual tour of the Biosecurity Research Institute, a biosafety level 3 biocontainment facility, where the research would be conducted. A question and answer period followed.

A second stakeholder meeting was convened after the grant was awarded but prior to bringing the pathogen into the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) at K-State. The same organizations and institutions were invited and the attendance was good. Attendees were informed that the grant was awarded, that the wheat blast pathogen would be brought into the BRI within two weeks, and that the research would begin soon thereafter. They were again briefed on the safety and security protocols that would be followed to ensure that the pathogen would not escape or be inadvertently carried out of the facility.

A third stakeholder meeting was convened to convey the results of the project to date and to inform the wheat community that the research team intended to submit a new proposal to continue working with wheat blast at the BRI for an additional five years. The same organizations and institutions were invited and attended. The presentations covered progress in identifying U.S. wheat varieties with resistance to wheat blast as well as progress in sequencing the genome of the wheat blast pathogen (Triticum pathotype of Magnaporthe oryzae).

"...competition for food and water will overtake competition for oil in both severity and significance in the next decade."     -UN World Food Program